No Margin for Error

Day 1 at Taunton and Somerset requiring a big effort to wrest control against Yorkshire

County Championship Division 1, Taunton, September 10th to 13th Yorkshire 70-3 trail Somerset 199 All Out (Abell 66, Jamie Overton 40*, Maharaj 5-54)

After what seemed like an interminable wait Championship cricket returned to Taunton today. A 17-day period covering the last three championship games began with much optimism but after the first day of that stretch Somerset find themselves behind in their game with the third placed team.  

The day dawned overcast and with a pitch with a tinge of green in middle but bare at both ends, described by Yorkshire on their blog as, “interesting”. It was no surprise that the toss was uncontested

Somerset’s selection of two spinners was a little surprising. Jack Brooks was omitted because of a heel injury but the return of Lewis Gregory was a most welcome compensation. Yorkshire as expected retained the side that won last time out at Scarborough against Notts.

Half an hour after tea Somerset were all out for 199. While it is difficult to judge the value of an innings until both sides have batted and, despite a recovery from 86-6, the failure to pick up any batting bonus points allied to the nature of several of the Somerset batsmen’s dismissals suggested this total was slightly below par.  

Yorkshire’s progress to the close, in markedly better batting conditions,  was beginning to confirm that impression with Gary Balance looking particularly assured but Dom Bess’ crucial strike to remove him in the penultimate over may yet prove to be crucial but there is a lot of hard work to be done by the bowlers tomorrow.

The first session was extremely tough for the batsmen. BBC Leeds’ Jonathan Doidge felt that the morning effort by the visitors was “As well as Yorkshire have bowled collectively all season”. 

With the floodlights on and the heavy cloud cover Somerset did really well initially, with the openers surviving testing opening spells by Ben Coad and Steven Patterson.  

Davies was disappointingly caught at point off Patterson in the tenth over for 11, a loose shot which undid the initial hard work, but it was the introduction of Duane Olivier’s extra pace which accounted for Vijay caught behind and then Hildreth bowled in his first two overs. Murali Vijay faced 46 balls for his 7 which demonstrated how tough conditions were for batting. Hildreth, back at 4 and Banton were dismissed for 1 and 2 respectively to reduce the score to 46-4  

By lunch Tom Abell and George Bartlett had seen Somerset to 70-4, Abell 23 and Bartlett 12. In the context of the morning Abell’s 23 off 70 balls represented a significant achievement. 

At this time of the season you are constantly checking the scores elsewhere (in this case Edgbaston) where Warwickshire after an opening partnership of 87 lost two wickets in quick succession to go to the break on 91-2. Dominic Sibley 35 not out.

Any hope that Abell and Bartlett could reprise their match-winning stand at Trent Bridge early in the season were dashed with the second ball of the afternoon session. The nature of Bartlett’s dismissal, caught reverse sweeping Maharaj, indicated that Somerset had decided to be positive against the spinner. But this was beyond positive to the point of reckless on Bartlett’s part and within half an hour of the resumption Somerset had were 85-6 when Gregory departed.

Fortunately the frenetic approach of the immediate post-lunch spell was abandoned or at least curtailed. Dom Bess helped Tom Abell add 45 for the seventh wicket, the highest partnership of the innings to that point. Maharaj then got both Bess and Roleof before tea for 15 and 10 respectively but the newly capped Jamie Overton saw Somerset through to tea in the company of his still unbeaten captain. Jamie had reached 11 off 18 balls by the interval out of a partnership of 25, Abell adjourned on 59 made off 164 balls and including 7 fours.

In Birmingham, Warwickshire added 80 in the afternoon for the loss of just one wicket to be 171-3.

Abell and Jamie Overton had extended their partnership to 51 just after tea when Maharaj trapped Abell leg before for 66, Josh Davey went in identical fashion and Somerset ended up, not for the first time this season a run short of a bonus point, all out for 199. Overton stranded for a run a ball 40. Maharaj continued his run of success against Somerset with another five wicket haul, this time 5-54.

By the close Warwickshire had reached 269-3. A similar batting display would be most welcome.